Meet Our Teachers

AJN teachers are dedicated to nurturing your child’s inherent curiosity.

Amy Castino

Amy taught in kindergarten, fourth and fifth grade classrooms before falling in love with early childhood education. She has taught every class here at AJN, from Older Twos through the Enrichment classes and truly loves getting to know all the smiling faces. Amy graduated from National-Louis University with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. She and her husband are the proud parents of two children, who keep them laughing and very active!  In her free time, Amy enjoys reading, traveling anywhere warm and spending time with her family and friends.

Why do you love AJN?

I love so many things about AJN – we are just one big family! The love, laughter and learning that grows here is contagious. You can’t help but smile when you see the children blossom. It’s beautiful, and being part of that is something I’m thankful for each day. 


Mary-Audrey Atteberry

After graduating with a dual degree in Elementary Education and Psychology from Lake Forest College, Mary-Audrey created and taught an enrichment program for preschool through fourth grade until her first child was born. Now that her two children are older, she is excited to return to her passion for teaching. Mary-Audrey has been an active Parent Teacher Organization member at Greeley Elementary School and teaches Sunday School at Kenilworth Union Church, where she and her family are members. In line with her passion for education, she serves on the Executive Board for Allendale Association, a school and home for troubled youth. Mary-Audrey lives in Winnetka with her husband, two children and golden retriever. She is also a proud AJN alumni parent.

Why do you love AJN?

The friendship, support and camaraderie among teachers is like no other. This is a fundamental building block for our school. We practice what we teach, are kind, love one another and are joyful. I seek so much joy from each and every smile, and each little hand that reaches out to hold mine.


Elizabeth Bigelow

Elizabeth is so excited to be at AJN! After several years in marketing, Elizabeth stayed at home to raise her three children. A life long resident of the area, Elizabeth has actively been involved at Kenilworth Union Church for many years. She has enjoyed volunteering, teaching Sunday school, and has always been active in her three children’s schools. Elizabeth loves gardening, swimming, and keeping up with the family Burnese Mountain dog! Elizabeth graduated from Trinity College and has a MBA from NYU.

Alexis Damon

Alexis graduated from Harrington Institute with an Associate’s degree in Interior Design. She previously worked at Northfield Community Nursery School. She attends Willow Creek Community Church, where she actively volunteers throughout the year. She is a mother of one boy and two girls. Alexis enjoys cooking, reading, walking and spending time with family and friends.

Why do you love AJN?

I enjoy working at AJN because of the warm and caring staff members and the real sense of community and commitment you experience among everyone here. Not only do I value working with my co-teacher, but I also enjoy watching the children learn and grow throughout the year. 


Jane DiCesare

Preschool 3s, Mommy and Me

Jane DiCesare has been teaching preschool for 16 years. She received her Master of Social Work from Jane Addams College of Social Work. However, she has found creating a nurturing, positive and affirming foundation to young children to have a more positive, life-long effect. In addition to her love of teaching, Jane loves dogs and has been a dog sitter/trainer for more than 12 years. She and her husband have two sons and have been residents of Wilmette for 30 years.

Why do you love AJN?

What I love about AJN is the sense of community that is nurtured between the children, teachers and church. Playing on the playground, worshiping in chapel and Dudley’s welcoming presence. When the children arrive, I can tell that they feel a sense of belonging. We are their school family.


Megan Galante

Megan taught for more than 10 years before starting a family. While Megan was home with her girls, she volunteered at their schools and for the North Shore Women's Board of the American Cancer Society. She also enjoyed being a Girl Scout Leader. Megan graduated from Rosemont College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Elementary Education Certification. She lives in Glenview with her husband and two daughters. Megan loves working with children and seeing their growth year after year.

Why do you love AJN?

Part of what makes AJN such an amazing school are the relationships! Inspired teaching comes from working together, and a successful school experience is enhanced by the wonderful parent/teacher communication and mutual desire for each child's growth.

Shawn 2s Teacher

Shawn Dragman

Shawn taught 3rd and 4th grade in Evanston and worked at Misericordia after graduating from St. Mary’s College of Notre Dame. She began teaching at Northfield Community Nursery School the year she was married and taught there for 20 years while raising her two daughters and son. Since leaving NCNS, Shawn has been nannying for a family in Northfield. Shawn lives in Glenview and enjoys spending time with her two granddaughters playing, biking, baking, shopping and traveling.



Liz Krupkin

Liz taught grades K-8 in the Chicago Public Schools before having children. She serves on the board of Evanston Scholars and held positions on the Lincolnwood School Parent Teacher Association in Evanston. Liz graduated from University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and an Master of Science in Education from Northwestern University. She enjoys running, playing tennis, cooking, gardening and spending time with her family.

Why do you love AJN?

I'd have to say that I feel like part of a family here at school, and I look forward to spending my time enjoying the children with other members of my "family."


Jolanta Kusnierek

Mom & Tots, Twos, and Lunch & Learn

Jolanta began her professional career working with children with special needs in Poland. In 1991, she came to the United States with her husband, Derek, and worked as a nanny until their son, Paul, was born in 1995. She was introduced to AJN through a board member and began working in the Mom and Tots and Tot Twos classes five days a week. Jolanta graduated from the University of Warmia and Mazury in Poland in 1990 and received her Master’s degree in Special Education. When she is not teaching, Jolanta enjoys being with her family, traveling, cooking and reading.

Why do you love AJN?

AJN has such a warm, friendly environment. The staff members are all very professional and caring, and it feels like a second home to me. Working both with the children and with my co-teachers brings so much joy to my life.


Patti Leon

Junior Kindergarten, Creations, Lunch & Learn

Patti’s love of teaching began in 2002 when, as a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a medical condition derailed her planned marketing career. Life unexpectedly led her to the world of Early Childhood Education. A native Spanish speaker, Patti was offered the Spanish Teacher position in a Glencoe preschool. Patti joined A Joyful Noise Preschool in 2010. She participated in the launch of the Lunch & Learn program and currently teaches both the Threes and Junior Kindergarten students. Patti also leads the team for the Creations class, where her creative nature knows no bounds!

Why do you love AJN?

A Joyful Noise is my sanctuary from the outside world. It is where I am received and with warm smiles and eager little minds ready to learn every day. I feel truly blessed that I can share my creativity and provide the children with the confidence they need to let their imaginations soar.

Suzie Pic

Suzie McColl

Suzie started teaching at AJN back in 2013. She graduated from Wittenberg University with a BA in Communications. Suzie has enjoyed following her passion working with kids through volunteering at Lurie’s Childrens Hospital and The Cradle, teaching Sunday school, taking Early Childhood Education classes and teaching preschool in Evanston. She has 3 college kids and lives with her husband, Chip, in Wilmette. She looks forward to getting back to work with her co-teacher Liz Krupkin!

Why do you love AJN?

Watching my students grow on a social and emotional level makes being an AJN teacher incredibly rewarding. Even on the toughest days, there is joy. The icing on the cake is making so many incredible friendships with families and fellow teachers.


Kiley Pomerantz

Kilie Pomerantz attended Arizona State University soon after returning home to Chicago, where she continued her love and passion for working with young children.  Kiley has worked with children for the past 12 years, and as she would put it, "If I can make a difference in a child's life, I know I have done something right."  Kiley has taught Junior Kindergarten, Older 2s and enrichment classes throughout her career at AJN.

Why do you love AJN?

I love AJN because we work as a team!  From our teaching partners to the staff to the parent board, we are continually communicating what is working well and what we can improve and grow upon.  AJN changes and adapts with the future while still staying true to its traditions, and that is why A Joyful Noide has remained to be such a special place year after year!


Allison Steinback

When Allison started working as a preschool substitute teacher, she realized how much she enjoyed being with children and found her way to AJN. She worked in the publishing industry for 10 years before beginning her career in early childhood education. After having twin boys, she retired to become a stay-at-home mom. Allison served on the Board of Directors of her children’s preschool, last serving as board president. She has also been on the Harper Elementary Parent Teacher Organization and served on the Highcrest Middle School Parent Teacher Organization. Allison graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications.

Why do you love AJN?

I love AJN because I love being with all the children.  It is amazing to see them grow socially, emotionally and physically over the course of the school year.


Courtney VanDeVelde

Courtney is thrilled to be at AJN and loves to work with children. Courtney is a mother of two children who are alumni of the Creations class. Courtney worked in the corporate world for nine years prior to having her first child and becoming a stay-at-home mother. Courtney graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology/Anthropology.

Why do you love AJN?

I love AJN because it is a safe place where a child can be anything they dream to be and are encouraged to express themselves freely. Creativity is embraced and applauded and I love that!

Meghan Older 2

Meghan Dragman

Meghan loves working with children and is looking forward to now teaching in the classroom as well as the pool. Meghan has spent the past 8 years teaching babies, toddlers and children how to swim and gain confidence at Big Blue Swim School in Wilmette. She has many years of experience babysitting children of all ages as well. Meghan enjoys spending her free time with friends and family. She particularly loves spoiling her two nieces and taking them on adventures.